Mental Health and Student Support
The Niagara Catholic District School Board recognizes our community responsibility to reach out in faith, hope and love, to serve our students and staff struggling with the challenges of mental health and addictions. It is a 2018-2019 System Priority to “Enhance student, staff and parent engagement to improve student achievement, equity, and mental health and well-being.”
Niagara Catholic has a strong Mental Health Team, led by our Mental Health Lead, which includes social workers and Child and Youth Workers, to assist students who are experiencing mental health challenges.
The Mental Health and Addictions Strategy continues to provide a three-tiered approach of promotion, prevention and intervention. In 2019, Niagara Catholic principals, vice- principals, Student Success/Guidance teams and Educational Resource Teachers and Mental Health Champions received specialized training in suicide intervention and mental health, an initiative that has been a priority on an annual basis. To date, Niagara Catholic has trained more than 550 staff members in suicide awareness and intervention.
Our support staff and teachers are implementing programs such as Zones of Regulation, Roots of Empathy, and restorative practices, to focus on the importance of promoting positive mental health.
In May 2019, schools participated in Mental Health Week and Catholic Education Week.
The successful campaign included embedding mental health into the curriculum, with the theme being, “How does social media or screen use, impact our mental health?” This included PA. announcements, daily lesson plans, resources, and a poster and video contest for students.
In October 2019, training for the updated Physical Education curriculum occurred with two staff members from every school, with a focus on social-emotional learning skills and mental health literacy, to align with the new strands in the Physical Education curriculum. These training sessions had a strong focus on understanding mental health, coping skills, help-seeking behaviours, and vaping and cannabis.
Niagara Catholic also focuses on promoting well-being for staff. Through our Staff Wellness Program portal, staff are encouraged to participate in activities, events and seminars that focus on supporting and promoting their well-being. Annually, there are learning opportunities focused on mental health for all staff. Voluntary suicide awareness sessions, and opportunities to learn about anxiety and strategies for managing anxiety were offered to all staff.
Niagara Catholic participated in Pink Shirt Day in February, which raises awareness about bullying and promotes a climate of acceptance and friendship.
In May, Niagara Catholic held a FamJam 4 Wellness in partnership with the EarlyOn Child and Family Centres. This family event included a keynote address by Dr. Jean Clinton, who spoke about the importance of instilling resilience in students. Parents and guardians took part in a number of workshops, and families who participated went home with a variety of items from the many agencies on-site that evening.
Also in May, Niagara Catholic participated in the annual Roots of Empathy Baby Celebration, hosted by the Early Childhood Community Development Centre, which included 38 of Niagara’s youngest teachers – babies who visited classrooms in our schools throughout the year, fostering empathy in our schools.